President Salome Zurabishvili is in Poland on a working visit, where she met with and delivered an address during a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.
President Zurabishvili’s Address
War in Ukraine
President Zurabishvili began her address by drawing attention to the ongoing war in Ukraine and underscoring that it has been “ten months since Russia has once again shown us its true face and revealed its expansionist, imperialist, and aggressive face. Ten months of this cruel and unjust war against the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
“Throughout these last ten months, the Ukrainian people, fighters, military personnel, and the whole society, showed us what it means to defend one’s country,” she stressed. “They showed us what it means to defend freedom, the freedom of all Europe, and our freedom in Georgia as part of this European space.”
President Zurabishvili noted that Ukraine has shown what it means “when society is truly united,” adding, “I say this for Georgia, as Ukraine is an example of how a country can be strong and can withstand anything when it is united when polarization and everything that pits us against each other is set aside.”
The President also reiterated that “Georgia stands in solidarity with Ukraine” as it knows the “price that Ukraine is paying today for its freedom and independence because Georgia paid that price in 1921, 1992, and 2008.”
“Georgia knows that our future is one,” she underscored. “The entire nation believes that Georgia should be in solidarity with Ukraine and that it cannot afford to not stand with Ukraine, within its capabilities.”
In that vein, she remarked, “Now, we all know that Georgia cannot directly get involved in this war, nor would that be right, but that does not mean that economically, and socially, the whole society isn’t supporting Ukraine.”
President Zurabishvili also paid tribute to the Georgian fighters who are involved “in the fight of our friendly Ukrainian brothers with their full will and dedication,” noting that 33 Georgian fighters have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on 24 February 2022.
- 04/12/2022 – Five Georgian Fighters Killed in Ukraine
Accentuating that “no doubt the time will come […] for negotiations” in the Ukraine war President Zurabishvili underscored that “it will be very important that the international community does not commit the mistakes it once made after Georgia, after the occupation of Crimea.”
“Either Russia must stop and come to terms with the fact that it has borders like all civilized countries and has no right to deploy its forces on the territories of other countries, or it will return to expansionism and whatever imperialist ambitions,” she stressed.
In that sense, President Zurabishvili also noted that the “old view, that we should take care about Russian feeling must not be allowed once again […] we should not care about Russia’s feelings but the feelings of all those countries, small or big, that have been living as neighbors of Russia for so long and that could not live with the most elementary security guarantee which is the principle of ‘my border is mine, your border is yours, and you have to adapt to your borders.'”
European Perspective and Relations with Poland
Focusing on Georgia’s European perspective, the President also highlighted once again that “were it not for the struggle of Ukraine, the European Union integration path of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia would not have accelerated so.” “We really have to say thank you for this,” she stressed.
The President noted that with that decision, “the remnants of the old vision, which was the so-called geographical approach, and the discussions on whether Georgia was European or not have been put to an end.”
“The next stage for us is candidacy, and unfortunately, we could not get to that stage along with Ukraine and Moldova,” President Zurabishvili emphasized. “There were many reasons for this but we have to get it.”
“We know that in this process too, we can count on the support of our real friend Poland, just as we’ve received Poland’s support throughout our European integration path,” she remarked and expressed Georgia’s gratitude that “Poland has always been a supporter of Georgia, and not just in the last 30 years.”
The President emphasized that such historical ties “forged our united past and will shape a united future in Europe.”
Restating that Poland has always supported Georgia’s territorial integrity, President Zurabishvili highlighted how Poland “stood by” Georgia in 2008, “and correctly assessed the danger for the future when we did not receive the international response that was necessary.”
She further noted how Poland continues to stand by Georgia today in its initiation of the Eastern Partnership, backing for the Association Agreement and the Associated Trio, as well as its contribution to the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM).
“We know that Poland will be our main friend, facilitator, and supporter on our European integration path, as well as our NATO integration tomorrow,” she said and concluded by expressing “our very high hopes for a future when we too will be full members of the European Union and in this union, we will be a reliable friend for Poland.”
President Duda’s Address
President Duda noted at the outset of his speech that he is “very pleased” to welcome President Zurabishvili at such a difficult time, to discuss “issues related to our security, about common security here in Europe. And also – of course – about what is important to us, which is the traditional Polish-Georgian ties and cooperation between our countries.”
He thanked the Georgian President for her “absolutely unequivocal stance in the context of Russian aggression against Ukraine […] because especially countries like Georgia just now – which, unfortunately, belongs to this community of countries, some of which are occupied by Russia – should be together, and the attitude of the President here deserves absolute respect.”
“This attitude is very important and is a picture of how the leader of a country that is in our part of Europe understands the situation arising from Russian aggression and the threat it poses to Ukraine’s state existence,” the Polish President underscored.
In that context, President Duda drew attention to the fact that Georgia has also fought to defend its territory against Russia. “All of us in Poland remember this very well – above all in 2008,” he said.
Recalling that the world did not heed Polish President Lech Kaczyński’s words in 2008 which called on Western leaders “to support Georgia and defend it against Russian aggression,” President Duda remarked that “today, both of us are fully aware that it is necessary to stand firm in defense of Ukraine – the very Ukraine of which the President Lech Kaczyński spoke at that time: that if we do not stop the Russians attacking Georgia, Ukraine will be attacked in the future.”
“This Russian aggression must be repelled,” he emphasized. “Today, by all means, the Ukrainians must be assisted in this.”
He noted that forcing Russia to relinquish its conquests in Ukraine will provide “hope that in the future it will also have to return other occupied territories, including the territories of Georgia occupied today.”
President Duda also highlighted that while meeting with the Georgian President, he assured her of Poland’s continued support for Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. “We hope that Georgia will soon achieve the status of a candidate for the European Union in the full sense of the word and that this process will continue,” he said.
The Polish President concluded his address by restating Poland’s support for Georgia’s aspirations and its desire for Georgia to join the EU and NATO community which “will enable Georgia to develop freely and peacefully in the part of Europe and the world where Georgia is located.”
Note: This article was updated on 6 December at 12:28 to reflect President Duda’s speech.